Safety inspectors to spend more time on offshore drilling platforms

Safety inspectors to spend more time on offshore drilling platforms
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The Interior Department's safety arm will soon increase its physical inspection time for offshore drilling.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced Monday that the new plan will make inspections more efficient and reduce taxpayer spending significantly — dropping costs by nearly $20 million over 3 1/2 years.

“We streamlined how inspectors do their job offshore, while achieving a significant cost-savings,” said Michael Saucier, a supervisor in the Gulf of Mexico region, in a statement. “This new process will allow BSEE inspectors to increase physical inspection time on offshore oil and gas facilities.”

There are more than 2,200 facilities in the Gulf of Mexico that will now get longer inspection times under the new plan. According to BSEE, the newly developed approach will allow access to electronic records onshore, which were not previously available. The technological advancement will reduce helicopter operating expenses by 15 percent.

BSEE was established in an effort to separate regulatory responsibilities following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. BSEE currently focuses on regulation of offshore drilling facilities while the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Office of Natural Resource Revenue focus on oil and gas leasing and revenue generation, respectively.

The new plan will start April 1.